updated 12:05 pm EST, Fri February 15, 2008
Montalvo CPU Leak
A relative newcomer to processor design, Montalvo Systems, hopes to take the edge over established firms such as AMD and Intel by using the concept of asymmetric cores, a reported source tells CNET. Much like the Cell processor at the core of the PlayStation 3, the unnamed first chip from Montalvo will feature at least one primary core but also multiple less powerful but more specialized cores that can offload work from the main cores without demanding as much power. While the way Montalvo's design will balance these uses is unknown, the Cell for PS3s typically uses its special cores to handle video decoding, networking, and background tasks.
Unlike the POWER-based Cell, however, the new design is allegedly being built with the same x86 processor architecture created by Intel and should run the same software as most if not all of the latter's current designs. Montalvo is allegedly competing directly with the established semiconductor giant and will use the asymmetric technology to either allow higher clock speeds or else reduce power consumption without sacrificing as much performance as Intel, which currently insists on equal features for each core. Montalvo is said to be targeting its architecture at both conventional desktops and notebooks as well as ultra-mobile PCs (UMPCs) and smartphones.
The new company has retained a veil of secrecy and has not said when it will release its first products.